Saturday, March 04, 2006

Rite of Election
I've played and sang at diocesan celebrations of the Rite of Election many times. But nothing was quite so nerve-wracking as my first as a catechumenate director in Lansing, Michigan in 1994. All of the things I'd seen other parish's RCIA folks do, especially the wimpy response to the bishop's questions, I was hoping to avoid. I suppose it was a bit of pride, but I wanted the Michigan State folks to stand out and express what I knew they believed. The RCIA team chairperson also told us that our parish had a reputation to uphold; that we always had confident and firm replies when the bishop asked us if we were ready for the Easter sacraments. So picture, if you will, our parish's RCIA people lining up on the side of the cathedral and I'm perturbed that the bishop seems to be winging it. He's asking different questions of each parish's set of catechumens and candidates and naturally, he's getting mumbled answers. But I found a pattern. I whispered to Diana, one of the three catechumens we had that year, "It's all in the first verb he uses. Listen for 'Do you, blah, blah, blah' or 'Will you, blah, blah, blah' or something like that. When it's time to reply just say 'I do' or 'I will' or whatever." "Oh, Todd," Diana said. "You're worrying too much. We already have it figured out. Do you remember Bill Murray in Stripes?" "Um ... yes." "We're just going to say what he said to the general in the movie: 'That's a fact, Jack,' and stamp out feet together." She got me. Just for a split second, but she did.
Pray for your parish's RCIA people. Send a card or letter of encouragement, in care of the parish office, if need be. Our worship team chairperson volunteered the group to host a brunch during Easter for the newly initiated. What a remarkable and generous idea. What if lots of parish groups made the effort to make newcomers feel welcome like that?

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